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Today is July 21, 2019

Outdoors

July outdoor opportunities

By Tony Kinton

July outdoor opportunities

Sunrises are spectacular, even in the heat and humidity of July. Photo by Tony Kinton.

So, what can we do outside during July in Mississippi? The dedicated water enthusiasts will say there are a great many opportunities. In fact, this is likely the ideal month for watercraft of various persuasions. Pontoon boats will be about, perhaps with a grill and burgers aboard. There will be speed boats, a skier or tuber in tow. And jet skies are a near certainty. July’s heat and humidity are insignificant players in these games.

But there are some who shudder and wrinkle their brows at that question opening this treatise. That heat and humidity just mentioned are cause for concern among those, virtually removing July from any consideration apart from air conditioning. Yet, there are outside things to do in July that are somewhat palatable.

There is fishing. Not that regimen which requires one to be on the lake beneath sunshine’s fury, but that which is somewhat more agreeable. Specifically, fishing can be reserved for early mornings. These, even in July, can be rather pleasant. Mist rising from the water; daylight gently peeking above the horizon; shade still unhindered by an overhead sun. Those early hours of a new day can be delightful. And a cane pole pulling bluegills from a pond or quiet stream can fill a duet of hours with grandiosity.

And there is camping. We do occasionally camp during hot weather, but such activity takes place while employing a camping trailer with an AC. Oh, I love tents; always have. But their use these days is only for cool weather. No winter camp possesses more mystery and romance than does one with a big canvas unit as its centerpiece, a pipe puffing wisps of wood smoke from the inside stove which keeps the tent cozy warm and free of moisture.

A favorite activity of many outdoors types is hiking, and this doesn’t have to be a protracted ordeal consisting of all-day, many-miles excursions. My top choice is a hike simply around the yard or on an agreeable neighbor’s holding, these all done, if possible, shortly after sunrise. There is a great deal to experience during these brief sojourns.

The first is that sunrise itself. It is glorious. A new day, at least when the weather is peaceful, is gentle, inviting, appealing. Fog becomes rays of light emanating in treetops and drifting downward to a leaf floor. The world comes alive. Squirrels shake water droplets from overhead limbs. Birds call and scurry and flutter from one locale to the next. A doe, maybe with her spotted newborns, may filter across a path or woods road. It is all quite marvelous.

And referencing those birds, they are too good to miss. My top pick of woods birdlife is the Pileated Woodpecker. My dad always called them Indian Hens, and I firmly recall the first he ever pointed out to me. We were squirrel hunting in the Pearl River swamp when our ears were assaulted by a raucous and unnerving cry. My eyes widened when we heard it, and he simply said in a hushed voice, “Indian Hen.” I saw it then, flitting from a tree trunk in an up-and-down flight pattern before alighting on another truck. I was mystified. Still am. I love the call of a Pileated Woodpecker, and that early-morning hiker is likely to hear and/or see one in wooded terrain.   

My next in the line of favorites is the yellow-billed cuckoo. A secretive bird I grew up knowing as a rain crow, this one is difficult to see. But its call is not difficult to hear. It is often a clicking sound that paints an aural picture of two aka two aka ka kow kow kow. Beautiful, wild, haunting. And that call will often precede a coming rain or storm. That’s why, I suppose, it got that name rain crow. If you actually see the bird, you are fortunate. 

More fortunate still you will be to hear that most treasured of all, at least among some, the quail. Its melodious “Bob White,” with a crescendo and accent on the “t” of “White,” is far too rare in recent years. Once a common sound across the countryside, numbers have dwindled. However, it appears there is some increase, and I hope this is true. I was thrilled to that call in my youth and even more so today.

If you opt for outside activity in July, a warning is in order. There are nasties out there. Ticks, chiggers, wasps, mosquitoes, poison oak and ivy and snakes. Treat clothes, even skin if this is tolerated, against biting insects. Snakes, feared by most but not nearly the threat they are perceived to be, choose to avoid a hiker as much or more than a hiker chooses to avoid the snakes. Be aware but not paranoid. Give them a wide berth and go about your business; allow them to do the same. And always check clothes and body for ticks upon your return. These pesky rascals can be truly dangerous.

July is hot and miserable. But it can also be welcoming when the participant plans wisely. Get outside as you can. The rewards are many.

 

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His latest book is “Rambling Through Pleasant Memories.” Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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